Aston Martin Racing: Aston Martin Ready for the Challenge of the 2010 Le Mans 24 Hours

Monday, June 07, 2010

Aston Martin Racing Le Mans LMP1
Aston Martin’s preparations for the 78th Le Mans 24 Hours are well underway after the two Gulf-liveried Works LMP1 cars passed pre-race scrutineering in Le Mans city centre, held for the first time on a Sunday at its traditional location; the Place des Jacobins.

Scrutineering is designed to ensure that all the cars taking part in the Le Mans 24 Hours comply with the strict technical rules that govern the race. The drivers also have to present their racing licences to event officials, but most of all scrutineering is a great opportunity for the fans to come face to face with the drivers and cars.

The technical checks have taken place in Le Mans city centre since the first 24 Hours was held in 1923, apart from a period between 1961 and 1975 when scrutineering happened at the circuit. From then on, it has always been held in the heart of the city – with record crowds turning up to get close to the action this year.

The six Aston Martin Racing drivers signed autographs and were interviewed on the main stage, talking about their hopes and objectives for the endurance classic that lies ahead. The six drivers count 16 participations at Le Mans between them, with Darren Turner having clocked up the most miles with seven previous starts.

This will be the second year that Aston Martin Racing tackles the Le Mans 24 Hours in the premier LMP1 category, and the prestigious British marque is also represented by three customer teams. Signature Plus enters an Aston Martin LMP1 car, similar to the two run by the Works team, while Young Driver AMR fields a DBR9 in the GT1 category – which was famously won by the Works team in 2007 and 2008. Finally, the JMW Motorsport team is running a Vantage GT2 for the first time.

While there have been some changes to the regulations for this year, the gap between the petrol and the diesel powered cars – which have won at Le Mans for the last four years – remains considerable. With the superior torque and economy of the diesels, the petrol-powered cars such as the Aston Martin face a notable performance disadvantage.

Nonetheless, the V12-powered Aston Martin LMP1 finished as the highest-placed petrol runner last year, and the plan for this year is to try and repeat that excellent accomplishment. The opposition will be even tougher than it was one year ago. Despite the tough task ahead of them, the six Aston Martin Racing drivers remain upbeat about their prospects.

Tomorrow they will attend the drivers’ briefing and the official autograph session at the circuit, before taking to the track for the first time on Wednesday between 16.00 and 20.00 (CET) for free practice. The race itself gets underway at 15.00 (CET) on Saturday 12 June, when the 56 cars will be flagged off by the French tricolour: yet another ancient Le Mans tradition.

Adrian Fernández (MEX): “Le Mans is just one of those epic occasions in motor sport so I’m really looking forward to it. We’ve had some great results in America this year and while those races are certainly very different to Le Mans, I think they go to show that our preparation is good. We’ve also gathered some experience of competing together as a team and that is certainly going to help us as well. ”

Stefan Mücke (D): “I’m really looking forward to this Le Mans and I already had plenty of time to think about it as I drove down here in my motor home from Berlin! Scrutineering is always a really exciting occasion as you can feel the anticipation building, but obviously it’s what happens on the track that counts. I was delighted to be part of the crew that finished as the top petrol car last year and that is definitely our target again this year.”

Harold Primat (CH): “We’re in the second year of the LMP1 programme this year, and so we are definitely a lot better prepared for the race than we were at this time last year. I’ve also grown a lot in confidence with the car, particularly after our races in America at the start of the season, so we’ve got a lot of things in our favour. But our rivals will be tough, as always.”

Juan Barazi (DK): “I had the pleasure of driving down to Le Mans in a 1988 Aston Martin, so I’ve already started the week with a strong Aston Martin flavour! Finding the right pace at Le Mans is going to be crucial. The Aston Martin is a very comfortable car to drive, which is important when you are there for 24 hours.”

Sam Hancock (GB): “I’ve done Le Mans before, but my big regret is that I have been away from it for too long: my last race here was in 2006. So to come back as an Aston Martin driver is simply fantastic. I’ve been shutting out everything else and trying to stay as focussed as I can for the race over the last few days. This is a great opportunity and I really intend to make the most of it.”

Darren Turner (GB): “This will be the eighth time I’m driving at Le Mans so I’ve got good experience of the car and the track. But I think it’s going to be even tougher for us than it was last year, because our rivals are so strong. Having said that, I love this race – the atmosphere is like nowhere else in the world – and finishing as top petrol car is going to be our aim again this time.”

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